Tim Keller | June 5, 2005
Let’s just say you have something to say to a friend that’s going to be hard for that person to hear but good for them. Should you tell them now or later? Should you only tell them if certain circumstances present themselves? Or should you not tell them at all? Any one of these options is morally allowable. We need wisdom to help us make these kinds of decisions.
We particularly need wisdom for making and maintaining relationships. Relationships are so important in life — vitally important for your health and wellbeing — and you need wisdom for knowing how relationships can break down and how to repair them. A wise person knows 1) the need for relationship repair, 2) the components of relationship repair, and 3) the heart of relationship repair.
Looking into the book of Proverbs, we see that wisdom is key to dealing with life’s tricky situations. It’s not just about knowing right from wrong, but also about making good choices when things aren’t black and white. The book also highlights the importance of relationships, and the need to fix them when they break, because they greatly influence our lives. Let’s see why we need to mend relationships, how we can do it, and what’s at the heart of this process.
1. Why we need to repair relationships
Often, relationships need mending because of hidden ill-feelings, or taking pleasure in someone else’s troubles. Sometimes, both people involved don’t even realize this. These feelings can lead to harmful talk meant to put others down, which can ruin friendships and communities. Wisdom is learning to spot this kind of behaviour, avoiding it, and not letting these feelings change who we are.
2. How to repair relationships
Proverbs guides us to fix relationships by not thinking we’re better than others, by forgiving them, by responding to bad things with good, and by only confronting others when it’s really necessary. Feeling superior can lead to damaging actions like gossip. Forgiveness means letting go of other people’s wrongs without holding a grudge or seeking payback. And sometimes, confrontation is needed for the good of everyone involved.
3. The heart of mending relationships
Proverbs 24:17-18 isn’t telling us God will punish our enemies. Instead, it’s warning us about the harm of holding onto resentment. The verse reminds us that only God, with His perfect wisdom and fairness, can judge and give out punishment. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, where He took on the punishment we deserved, we can let go of feelings of superiority and self-righteousness, leading to healing and peace.
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